Oh how much we’ve missed sipping ciders on a haystack and dancing in a field of strangers. We’re crossing all our fingers and toes that we can be safely reunited with our festi-pals this year. So to manifest some conscious partying, here’s a list of UK-accessible eco festivals that are currently going ahead, and some ideas on how to curb your impact whilst you’re there. Swap your work shirt for butterfly wings, your screen glasses for a flower crown. It’s time to press play.
1, Green Man
19th - 22nd August, Brecon Beacons
Although the line-up is yet to be released, with past artists including FourTet, Khruangbin and Maribou State, we’re pretty sure it’s going to be a goodie. Green Man’s sustainability efforts are up there too. They use alternative power sources including solar, hydrogen, pedal power and generators fueled by vegetable oil, whilst offsetting all other emissions. You’ll also find compost loos, reusable cups, compostable cutlery and packaging at food stalls, and no plastics sold on site. For cutting emissions on travel, they offer discounts on train tickets and, wait for it, cycling trips to the festival. Finally, any unwanted camping gear and leftover food will go to refugees around the world. We’re in.
16th-17th July, Online
If you’re concerned about Covid but don’t want to miss out on the music, why not go for a digital festival, such as this installment of the famed Tomorrowland, which you can enjoy from the comfort of your home. It is adapted to your local time zone, blasts all the best electro beats, and is a super environmental option as it cuts out transport and all the carbon crunching paraphernalia that a festival entails. Just dress up for your living room, get the recycling box out for your tinnies, and turn up the volume.
3, Camp Kin, from the makers of Shambala
23th - 26th July, 30th July - 2nd August, 6th - 9th August, Northamptonshire
If you know Shambala, you know it's a weekend of utopian revelry committed to sustainable practise. With the festival cancelled this year, these baby brother camping weekends are the next best family-friendly thing. Think campfires, yoga, paddleboarding and painting, with low-key music and fewer people. It is the perfect remedy for those slowly emerging back to the idea of a social life, which by the way is totally understandable if, like me, you’ve shared space only with houseplants not humans. It’s all achieved with the same sustainability policy as Shambala, that is 100% renewable power, Net Zero camping, meat and fish-free food as well as disposables and plastic-free. Wholesome fun, sign me up.
29th July - 1st August 2021, Chepstow
With the philosophy of ‘A festival beyond hedonism’, Green Gathering is as much about eco-education and triggering a sense of responsibility, as fuelling conscious creativity and folky fun. Distinguished as the original off-grid festival, it has banned generators to be 100% powered by the sun, wind and pedal-power. It aims to be a real-life showcase of low impact alternatives and sustainable living, with permaculture and upcycling workshops; free swap or repair shops; showers fired by scrap wood; food and drink that’s vegetarian and sourced locally; on-site composting for food waste; and zero tolerance on the sale of single-use plastics. Even their wristbands are made out of recycled plastic! The festival raises funds for the Green Gathering charity, which promotes sustainability via hands-on educational events and activities throughout the year. Hit up their Spotify playlist for a flavour of this years’ music, and view their current line-up of speakers and activists here.
Make any festival an eco festival:
- Guilt-free garms. Rather than contributing to fast fashion or buying one-time tat, get creative with your festi wear. Scour charity shops, secondhand and vintage or get crafty with old clothes. What about making a one-of-a-kind headdress out of recycled materials? Cue a Pinterest inspo board…
- Glitter junkies, junk that glitter. Unfortunately the jury is out on biodegradable sparkles too, as there’s no evidence they are any better for the environment. We have to accept that microplastics cause mega problems. So, get on face paints, masks and feathers instead.
- Plastic not-so fantastic. Take a sustainable water bottle, get your drink poured into a reusable cup and bring your own cutlery to avoid one-time plastic consumption.
- Face wipes to flannels. An average of 35 wipes are found for every kilometre of British beach. They clog our sewers, suffocate our fish and contribute to plastic pollution. Swap them for make-up remover and reusable cotton pads, or a trusty flannel and soap.
- Beware of your waste. Take as little with you as possible and leave no trace. That means taking your tent home with you or donating it through the festival, if this is an option. And make sure you are using the recycling bins provided, folks.
- No ifs or cigarette butts. They do not biodegrade and their fibres can take up to 10 years to break down. Get yourself a pocket ashtray, as it's not cool to leave your butts on the ground.
- Go off-grid. Using 4G or Wifi costs carbon. So rather than constantly uploading Insta stories, maybe use the weekend to just take it all in. After all, it's been two years since you were last dancing under the sun and stars. Savour it.
- Low-carbon journeying. Take public transport, carpool with your mates or post on the festival Facebook group to pick up other festi-goers on the way. That way, you’ll cut emissions, share fuel money and maybe make some new pals. Win-win-win.